Despite ‘peace talks’ government troops abuse

Despite the government’s calls for ‘peace talks’, humanitarian groups and official Karen political parties claim the Burma Army is still committing abuses against civilians in Eastern Burma.

Representatives from the Karen National Union and Burma government officials have met several times recently to try to reach a ceasefire agreement. Civilian sources say while the politicians are talking the Burma Army are attacking villages, destroying homes and using forced labor in the Kawkareik, Hlaingbwe and Toungoo areas of Karen State.

Major Saw Hla Ngwe, joint secretary of the KNU, told Karen News that there has not been any key developments in the ceasefire talks nor have the Burma Army stopped their operations.

“The government is offering to talk peace for a ceasefire, but they haven’t pulled out any of their troops and fighting is still ongoing. The government troops kill Karen civilians and burn down their homes.”

According to villagers, on October 29, troops from Burma Army Infantry Battalion 230, entered Hti Ma Kyu Kee village and shot dead the village head, Saw Phar Kaw Hser, 35. The soldiers looted his body, stealing a pairs of gold earrings, a ring and money.

The Karen Human Right Group report stated that on October 12, soldiers from Burma Army Infantry Battalion 903 and Light Infantry Battalion 92 operating in Thandaung Township of Toungoo District, went into a village and fired small and heavy weapons at houses and the village church.

According to the KHRG report, the Burma Army soldiers destroyed villagers’ food and household utensils such as pots, pans, plates – villagers escaped into the jungle for their safety.

Saw Albert, a KHRG field coordinator told Karen News that while peace talk are a good sign they have contribute anything to the development of human rights in Karen state.

“The government and the KNU meeting to bring peace is a good thing. If we look at them from a human right perspective, these talks haven’t resulted in stopping human right violations in Karen State.”

The KHRG report noted that even if there is a ceasefire agreement, only armed conflict related human right violations would decrease, but human right violations linked to development projects such as dams, roads and mining related will still be ongoing.

In recent weeks, fighting between the Burma Army sponsored Border Guard Force (Battalion 1017) militia and the KNLA near Naung Kine village in Kawkareik Township has brought more human rights abuses on villagers. The BGF militia forced 10 villagers in the area to porter for them on a rotation basis.

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